It was like the big bang!
I began my journey all the way back in the year 2000 when I took a summer class in composition focusing on children’s literature. I still remember her, my professor who inspired me to continue years later (we will call her “Professor John” to protect her identity). She was smart and kind, and she was engaging. She always had a smile on her face and made a six-week class as entertaining as possible.
I remember writing one short story that touched on a very personal life event plus two essays–critiques based on assigned readings. The first one was easy, as it drew on actual events. It was entitled Bare Trees, an account of my move to New York half a decade earlier. “As the plane slowly descended, the sight of leafless trees revealed itself, offering a glimpse of what was to come…” I wrote.
It was personal. It was meaningful. And it was honest. I still have a copy hidden somewhere in my closet. As it turned out years later, I was not only offered a glimpse but a whole boatload of memories…memories that linger on up to this day. They are memories of family and friends, of feasts and celebrations, of travels, and of happiness and sorrow.
My essays, on the other hand, were a little more straightforward. One of the required readings was about a group of kids who turned an abandoned lot into something magical…in a practical sense that is. They converted it into a beautiful vegetable garden!
I remember having to visit an actual garden just behind our campus with my all of my classmates and will never forget planting seeds to fully immerse ourselves into the whole gardening experience. It was a little too involved and just a little bit contrived, but the message of the story was positive. Plus, I did manage to connect with a couple of good people in class, so all in all, the experience was worth it.
But one book stood out from the rest and would have a lasting impression on me. It was Lois Lowry’s The Giver, a Newbery medal winning book. The story is set in a utopian society but slowly reveals a darker side as the characters are developed. There is no pain or hunger, and everyone is the same. But there is something sinister behind all the “perfection.” It was a good read. Lowry, of course, gives a masterful technique in storytelling, the way nobody else can. Then summer ended, in a way that all New York summers end–very quickly! And so I moved on…to my last semester in school not realizing that that summer would have an effect on me for years to come.
I took photography after that and, interestingly, a class in ceramics, during my last semester. It was my last creative hurrah, as I ended my 4 years as a math major. Yes, I was sort of a geek in school, but it was a fun way to end my years in school. Those three classes–they were my whipped cream topping in my bland hot chocolate, and I enjoyed them immensely.
My love of photography ensued afterward, taking pictures of almost about everything my lenses seemed worthy of capturing, but my interest in writing will not come about and will be hidden in the shadows until years later…